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Review: Corsair Force Series F80 SSD: to RAID or not to RAID?

by Parm Mann on 10 September 2010, 17:07 4.5

Tags: Force Series F80, Corsair

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qazxw

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Test Methodology

We've got two Corsair Force Series F80 drives to play with, so we'll be testing both single-drive and dual-drive setups; the latter configured as a striped RAID 0 array.

Before we get started, a disclaimer of sorts. The SSD landscape has transformed itself in recent months through the arrival of new firmware, new controllers and new benchmarks.

Due to the changes, we're opting to start afresh with a new benchmark suite. We haven't yet had the opportunity to put numerous SSDs through the new-look test, but we've a useful set of comparison drives to start with.

For the purpose of this review, the Corsair F80 will be compared to a 64GB Crucial RealSSD C300, and for those hoping to save a few bob, we're also throwing in numbers for two cheap-and-cheerful 1TB hard disks in a speedy RAID 0 configuration.

The results should answer a regularly-repeated question; are two hard disks in RAID 0 a worthy alternative to a single SSD?

Here's a more detailed look at our six-way comparison:

Comparison drives

Storage drive Corsair Force Series F80 Corsair Force Series F80 (x2) Crucial Real SSD C300 Crucial Real SSD C300 Samsung HD103SJ Samsung HD103SJ (x2)
Drive capacity 80GB 160GB 64GB 64GB 1TB 2TB
Drive type SSD SSD SSD SSD HDD  
Drive firmware 1.1 1.1 002 002 1AJ100E4 1AJ100E4
Connection method SATA 3Gbps, AHCI SATA 3Gbps, AHCI SATA 3Gbps, AHCI SATA 6Gbps, AHCI SATA 3Gbps, AHCI SATA 3Gbps, AHCI
Controller used Intel ICH10R Intel ICH10R Intel ICH10R Marvell PCIe Intel ICH10R Intel ICH10R
RAID configuration - RAID 0 - - - RAID 0
Approx. price £175 £350 £110 £110 £45 £90
Approx. price per GB £2.25 £2.25 £1.72 £1.72 £0.05 £0.05

Test bench

CPU Intel Core i7 965 Extreme Edition (3.20GHz, 8MB L3 cache, quad-core, LGA1366 - Turbo Boost enabled)
Motherboard ASUS P6X58D Premium
BIOS revision 0808
Memory 6GB Corsair DDR3
Host hard drive Corsair Nova V128 SSD
Storage controllers Intel ICH10R controller (SATA 3Gbps) and Marvell PCIe controller (SATA 6Gbps)
Graphics Card Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB
PSU Corsair HX1000W
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate, 64-bit

Benchmarks

ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.46 The freeware ATTO benchmark provides basic sequential speed results for both read and write operations. Using the default queue depth of four, we record read and write speeds during 1MB transfers.
CrystalDiskMark v3.0 beta 3 CrystalDiskMark provides various storage benchmarks, but we're interested in the returned 32-thread 4K performance numbers to see how well the drives fare when tasked with numerous small transfers.
AS SSD v1.5.3x

Another freeware benchmark, AS SSD is designed primarily for testing solid-state storage. We run the benchmark and record the drive's overall read and write scores. The final numbers take into account sequential speeds, input/output performance and access time.

Iometer v2008.06.18-RC2 Iometer is an I/O subsystem measurement tool originally developed by Intel. To measure a drive's I/O performance, we set the benchmark to utilise 4KB transfers in a random spread. Read and write distribution is set to 50 per cent, and queue depth at 32. The test is run for two minutes and we record the total I/Os per second.
PCMark Vantage v1.0.2.0 Emulating real-world use, PCMark Vantage spits out a bunch of data on the relative speed of the drives when undertaking common tasks. We record Windows startup, application load time and gaming performance.